Mon, 29 Oct 2018
WEST Berkshire Council has insisted it did not hide the fact that residents could opt for cheaper, part-year charge of £25 to have their green bins collected.
More than 25,000 people have signed up and paid £50 to have their garden waste recycled.
However, there is a £25 option if you only want your bins collected for six months.
The council has admitted the £25 charge was not publicised in the letter it sent out to residents or on its website.
The council’s deputy opposition leader Alan Macro (Lib Dem, Theale) has reported the local authority to Trading Standards, saying it was a “blatant omission” designed to get residents to sign up to the more expensive option.
However, last week the council’s portfolio holder for waste, Hilary Cole, said it was “clearly displayed” in the terms and conditions, “which all subscribers confirmed they’d read”.
As a result, Mrs Cole said those who had already signed up to the £50 charge wouldn’t be refunded.
At a meeting of West Berkshire Council’s executive committee last Thursday, a member of the public, Susan Millington, asked why the £25 charge had not been publicised.
To which Mrs Cole replied: “You’re not correct in your assertion that we did not publicise the March to September 2019 collection option as it was displayed clearly in our terms and conditions, which all subscribers confirmed they had read before subscribing to the service online.
“Those who subscribed to the service over the phone or sent in payment by cheque were sent hard copies of these.
“The £25 charge was never intended to be an option as you describe it, rather it was to ensure those who joined the scheme late would not be not penalised.
“If there were residents who decided, following their initial subscription and having received the pack with their stickers and terms, that they would prefer to wait until March, they could have cancelled their subscription within 14 days without any penalty.
“At the press launch of the service on July 13, I made it clear in my response to press questions that this option would be offered to residents from March 2019.
“I am sure you want to encourage garden waste recycling year round as much as I do, which is why we’ve offered residents the opportunity to sign up for the garden waste collection in March, although of course they can sign up for this service throughout the year as we do not restrict accepting payment to either September or March.”
Mrs Millington responded by asking: “The Green Party asked two questions to this executive on June 14, asking about the potential of reducing the green bin charge for people who couldn’t afford it and were told that there wasn’t that option.
“Now clearly there is.
“So would you be prepared to commit here to refunding people who only want and only need six months so that they can have a fair collection?”
Mrs Cole replied: “Well, the people who have already subscribed for September are already enjoying the service, so no.”